A Look Back at Black History Month

A Look Back at Black History Month
Posted on 03/04/2024
Montclair Public Schools celebrated Black History Month with a variety of educational and enrichment activities throughout the month of February. Although African American history is integrated throughout our year-long curriculum at all levels, teachers and students are making a concerted effort throughout the month of February to further explore significant African American historical figures and associated events. Displays throughout schools featured art, literature and general information reinforcing the curricular programs while a multitude of assemblies, programs and classroom-specific activities emphasized the history and significance of African Americans throughout history. Below is just a glimpse of some of the incredible creative and impactful activities that took place.  

The Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble, founded in 1984, presented a visually and emotionally stimulating performance representing the beauty of West African culture.

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Two special events were held at Bullock to tie into Black History Month. First was the signing of an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s “I Have a Dream” speech by students in Ms. Buttimore’s class, led by Teacher of the Deaf, Lora Orta. Then students were treated to an interactive program by Beyond the Boogie Dance Company. They talked about the history of rap and hip hop, with their roots in Black History. 

All students attended an assembly with Soul Steps (Young Audiences Arts for Learning). Soul Steps shared a showcase of the African American dance tradition known as “stepping.” Students explored how step started among African American fraternities and sororities on college campuses as a means of unity and self-expression, and has deep roots in the migrant labor culture of South African gold mines. Students enjoyed the high-energy step choreography performed by the ensemble along with interactive breakdowns of step moves that engaged the audience in both the physicality and the history behind the dance. 

black history month assembly

Hillside held its annual third grade Black History Wax Museum where students dressed up as and spoke about influential African Americans throughout history. The Hillside Gymnastics Team held a Gymnastics Night celebrating Black History by infusing Black Vocal Artists in their routines. Premier Dance Company joined Hillside in celebrating 50 years of Hip-Hop, Black History Month and Women’s History month with a musical dance tribute.

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black history wax museum black history wax museum
black history month wax museum black history month wax museum

Nishuane began its schoolwide celebration of Black History Month elevating the stories of Black icons who are changemakers of the past and present as well as how to be a changemaker in our world. “Bottle and Can Biography” projects lined the hallways. Students also learned about The Greensboro Four. and heard a read aloud of Get Up, Stand Up by Cedella Marley! Families were encouraged to visit the Nishuane Black History Month Library, a wonderful resource that will continue to be available to our community to extend our celebration well beyond this month. A schoolwide Black History Month titled “A Black History Walk” featured special performances by Hillside’s Drums of Thunder and Montclair’s Beyond the Boogie. We also celebrated Hillside alumna and changemaker Ife Joseph. This week our learners continued our school wide celebration of Black History Month. We also heard two read alouds: Skin Like Mine by Latashia M. Perry and Gary & The Greatest Inventors by Akura Marshall. 

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black history month assembly black history month assembly
black history month project black history month assembly black history month assembly

Northeast’s kick-off activity was a schoolwide “Queen Nur” assembly. Queen Nur, accompanied by percussionist Dwight James, took students through a tour of black history. Queen Nur retold the “Drum Story” and introduction to the first drum in West Africa. The drum was used for many purposes such as sending joyful messages of marriages and births and also of death and war cries. Through story, poetry, songs, call and response and rhythms, she shared cultural meanings and coded messages that originated with the first drums to African American milestones from enslavement and the Underground Railroad, reconstruction and civil rights. The children learned how to follow basic rhythms with the drum sounds by using their hands and bodies. Queen Nur highlighted important historical figures such as Henry Box Brown, Stagecoach Mary, Fannie Lou Hamer and Mamie Peanut Johnson. All grades participated in learning activities through reading, researching, writing art and more. Read all the details of Northeast’s activities

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black history month poster black history month poster black history month poster

Along with a variety of classroom/grade level projects that are displayed in the hallways throughout the school, the students of Watchung were treated to a student-led assembly. The assembly consisted of music, dance, poetry, dramatic skits and written essays read to the school community by 4th and 5th graders. 

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